Language and Ambivalence in Achebe’s Writing

  • Thomas Jay Lynn
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)


Achebe, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, and others have contributed compelling arguments to the debate over the appropriate language of African literature, but the present chapter, while mindful of these arguments, does not seek to adjudicate between them. Rather, it delineates how this debate was, in effect, conducted by Achebe himself in No Longer at Ease, which appeared in 1960, the year of Nigerian independence. One might fault the book’s irresolution on the language issue, but the novel offers an honest portrayal of those forces that shape an ambivalent linguistic sensibility. Instead of depicting or prescribing a linguistic situation that might be, Achebe vividly dramatizes the complexity of the one that existed at the time of the novel’s composition and that continues in many parts of Africa.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Jay Lynn
    • 1
  1. 1.Penn State BerksReadingUSA

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